PV: The STAAR Test Needs a Change


Trinity Rocha

Alaina Smith

Alaina Smith, Staff Reporter

When asked about the STAAR test, I, as a student required to take it, have a lot of thoughts. STAAR stands for “State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness,” according to the Texas Education Association website. I have taken several STAAR tests since third grade, and they are not, in any way, fun. Yes, I understand that it’s an important part of seeing what students know and have learned, and I agree with all that. However, there are a lot more drawbacks to these assessments than meets the naive eye.

 If you have never taken a STAAR test then you have no idea how great the amount of pressure to do well is. “If you do not know what STAAR is, you are fortunate,” states Jeff Wheatcraft in Texas teachers, we must mobilize against STAAR testing. Whether the teachers and administrators push us to do well to prove ourselves or to give the school a good reputation, the pressure is there, and when the test rolls around it’s easy to get stressed.

Throughout the school year the STAAR test becomes more prominently mentioned in lessons, and some teachers even have the students complete a review specifically for the STAAR. These reviews and comments on what will be on the STAAR shows us, students, that it is a really big test, so naturally some of us are going to be nervous when the time comes to take the test.

 According to the Texas Assessment Management System, STAAR tests are given to students at their own school, in regular classrooms that have been cleared and set up to make it easy to focus on the test. If students have certain special needs and require special accommodations, they may be tested in a different area of the school.Though this seems helpful, the environment that the STAAR test takes place in can also cause some students to feel even more scared about accidentally doing something wrong thus taking their focus off the task at hand. Teachers are required to read a long packet of rules and procedures before the test starts stating that no one in the room can have access to a device, or talk to anyone, and if they do, they run the risk of causing everyone in the room to have to retake the test. These procedures can seem like a lot to handle as a student.

Along with all the stress associated with taking the STAAR test, some students are just bad at test-taking. I have a friend named Caitlynn who gets very stressed about taking big tests, so when the time comes to take the STAAR test she isn’t at her best. When she is in class, however, she excels and gets wonderful grades. So it’s not that she isn’t smart, but she just isn’t good with tests. Also in Wheatcraft’s essay, it is said that students are likely to be tested two or more grade levels above their own. I think this is unfair to every student who has ever been tested. The STAAR often changes from year to year, so what about the students who have been given harder questions, essay prompts and such.

The general idea of using the STAAR to test what students learn and how the teachers teach is good in theory, but what changes occur from class to testing room? What runs through a students mind leading up to the biggest test of the year? Is there no other way to see what a child has learned? A way that doesn’t involve stressing them to the max with a 54 question test and a four hour time limit. Why is there so much resting on a test that may not even give an accurate judgement of a child’s mental capacity and capability? The STAAR test needs a change.